America’s new “fear”

Tram Ho

With science and technology emerging as a new frontier in US-China tensions, scientists are beginning to worry that academic freedom may be affected.

In May, Emory University decided to fire a couple of neuroscientists Li Xiaojiang and Li Shihua, accusing the couple of not disclosing grants from Chinese organizations.

The war started by the US

The investigation into the couple (both successfully naturalized and became US citizens) originated with a letter from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Specifically, the organization warned research institutes about “foreign influence” in NIH-funded laboratories.

The same decision took place at MD Anderson Cancer Research Center, a famous Houston cancer specialist hospital, funded by the NIH.

'Noi compared' with My photo 1
The American “fear” of spies can make them cross academic boundaries and affect cooperation between US and Chinese scientists.

NIH is known as the world’s largest public fund of research platform. For a long time, they have always encouraged international cooperation. Therefore, large-scale exploration of NIH foreign donations surprised the Chinese scientific community.

With a closer look at the relationship of scientists with the Chinese side – which is defined as the source of “foreign influence” and the risk of stealing intellectual property – NIH is almost ” repeat “campaign against China’s economic espionage activities initiated by the US Department of Justice on November 1, 2018.

“At present, we can see that China’s spy activities are not only aimed at ordinary objects like intelligence agencies or defense. They are targeting goals such as universities and research laboratories, ”said US Justice Minister Jeff Sessions at the time of the initiative.

However, Peter Zeidenberg, a lawyer at Arent Fox law firm, also a former prosecutor, has a different opinion. He argued that the concept of intellectual property theft seems to be still quite strange to scientists, who tend to share and publish scientific research in their own communities.

“Initiative forcing them to be unable to send, share or collaborate is a nightmare idea for scientists,” Zeidenberg said in a June conference.

Meanwhile, a number of scientific associations are also experiencing a difficult time shifting to strengthen US legal actions against those linked to China.

The initiative forced them to send, share or cooperate with each other is really a nightmare idea for scientists

Zeidenberg, a lawyer at Arent Fox law firm.

In May, the American Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the “author” of academic journals, banned researchers from “cooperating” with Huawei Technologies just days after a public export ban. technology with Chinese companies of the US government.

Ju Yiguang, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, said this created frustration and widespread misunderstanding among Chinese-American scientists.

“You won’t know if you’ve crossed the line between academic freedom and ‘foreign influence’,” Ju said, referring to “growing fears” about “when stressful trade becomes a technology war and maybe even political war will force us to choose one side. ”

Racial problems

The increasingly tense atmosphere between the US and China also raises racial allegations.

In a March letter to Science, a group of Chinese-based scientists accused the US of participating in “color discrimination.”

Then, in June, a New York-based lobbying group sent a letter to US President Donald Trump, affirming “indiscriminate investigations and skin color discrimination aimed at scientists.” China has no place in America.

In recent years, the US has been constantly making “silly” mistakes when it comes to espionage accusations against Chinese-based scientists. A typical case for this is Xiaoxing Xi, a former chairman of the Department of Physics at Temple University in Philadelphia, who was accused in 2015 for stealing US restricted technology and sent to China.

'Noi compared' with My photo 2
Chinese-American physicist Xiaoxing Xi at a September 2015 press conference in Washington.

The case was canceled only a few months after the testimony showed evidence from the FBI was misunderstood. However, Xi then continued to suffer from this “stain” and severely cut off US government funding for research projects.

NIH’s “suppression” of Chinese-funded scholars has also led at least two Chinese-American cancer research scientists to return to their homeland of Asia.

Wu Xifeng, who spent a decade working at MD Anderson Hospital before being fired, returned home and became head of the Public Health Department at Zhejiang University. Meanwhile, Taiwan-based cancer research scientist Mien-Chie Hung became president of Chinese Medical University in his hometown.

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Source : TechTalk via News Zing